Family of late Singtel director sues drivers involved in his fatal accident for $1 million

SINGAPORE - The family of Irish expat Donough Andrew Keane, who died after a traffic accident on the Central Expressway in 2015, is seeking compensation of more than $1 million from the two drivers involved.

Mr Keane's brother and administrator of his estate, Mr Colin Joseph Keane, has filed a claim against taxi driver Ko Ngak Phweng and part-time driver Tan Yeow Kim for the loss and damage suffered by his parents.

According to court documents that were filed by the plaintiff, Mr Keane was working as a director of information technology at Singtel and earning a monthly average of $20,372 including allowances.

As a result of the accident, Mr Keane's life was "considerably shortened", dying at age 41, and his aged parents, who were dependent on him, have suffered loss and damage, said his brother, who is represented by Mr Nandakumar Renganathan and Ms Shalini Mogan from RHTLaw Taylor Wessing.

He claims that Mr Keane suffered "serious and debilitating" head and cervical spinal injuries from the accident caused by the negligence of both Mr Ko and Ms Tan.

On May 6, 2015, Mr Ko was ferrying Mr Keane and another passenger, Mr Anthony Gerard John Hall, from the airport to Cairnhill at around midnight.

While travelling on the CTE, the taxi driver failed to see a limousine that had stopped in the left-most lane, and crashed into the black Mercedes-Benz driven by Ms Tan.

Ms Tan had been driving Mr Charles Robert Allenbach Jr to his Bukit Timah home when she missed the Bukit Timah Road exit, stopped the car, and was reversing against the flow of traffic to get to her exit.

During a court hearing in October 2016, Mr Ko admitted that he failed to keep a proper lookout and by the time he saw the Mercedes-Benz, it was too late to stop. His taxi hit the back of the car, which surged forward and hit a bollard.

While the other two passengers survived the collision, Mr Keane was pronounced dead at Tan Tock Seng Hospital at around 2.20am.

 

For causing the death of Mr Keane through his negligence, the taxi driver, who was 58 years old then, was sentenced to three weeks' jail and banned from driving for five years.

Ms Tan, then 57, was sentenced to four weeks' jail and banned from driving for five years for dangerous driving.

Relying on the fact that Mr Ko and Ms Tan had pleaded guilty to their offences, Mr Keane's brother is seeking damages in excess of $1 million, including a monthly $1,500 allowance to each parent since the death of Mr Keane in 2015 and up to 10 years following the completion of the lawsuit.

The amount also includes funeral expenses, grief counselling for his parents, and the costs of repatriating Mr Keane's personal belongings from Singapore and Australia to Ireland.

In defence papers filed by Mr Ko, who was represented by lawyers from United Legal Alliance, he denied the claims. Instead, he argued that the accident was caused by the combined negligence of Mr Keane and Ms Tan.

In particular, Mr Ko noted that Mr Keane had failed to wear a seat belt, while Ms Tan had stopped and reversed her vehicle along the expressway.

Ms Tan, in her defence papers filed by lawyers from Tan Kok Quan Partnership, also denied the claims made by the plaintiff.

She noted that at the time of the accident, she had switched on her hazard lights upon stopping her vehicle near the bollards of the chevron markings, and had turned her head physically to look in the rear.

She also claimed she had "slowly reversed her car as there were no motor vehicles approaching her from the rear".

Instead, the collision was caused by the negligence of Mr Ko, who had failed to keep a proper lookout and was driving at "an excessive speed".

In addition, Ms Tan claimed that Mr Keane's fatal injuries had been caused or contributed by his own negligence of not wearing a seat belt.

She added that while she had pleaded guilty to the offence of dangerous driving in relation to the same accident in 2016, this does not amount to an admission of liability.

A High Court pre-trial conference will be held Wednesday (June 19).